Ex-Chief Justice of India: Sathya Sai Baba “dictated my every single judgement”
Posted by Barry Pittard on May 4, 2011
In the Times of India article – ‘Sai Baba, my god, dictated my every single judgment’ – TNN | May 1, 2011, 03.22am IST – the former Chief Justice of India, P.N. Bhagwati, and now to be head of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, makes this extraordinary claim. He says:
“As a professional, each time I would sit down to write a judgment at 5 ‘o’clock in the morning, I was only writing what my god dictated. Bhagwan held my hand as I put pen to paper”
One wonders how the weighty pens of judges the world over can ever manage – so precariously unaided by such Direct Divine Penmanship as Bhagwati says he is aided – to remain upright and without trembling ….
One may like to pause, then – perhaps with the aid of a soothing Indian tea – just to take in the unexpectedness of all this.
A Strange Notion: A Judge’s Own Guru Is Above The Law
One may also wonder what the case if other judges in India, who are enamoured of this or that guru, were to deem themselves in a mystic-golden-telephone-like contact with their Guru-God, and think that he or she is talking to them, guiding them, holding their pen, etc.
And in India, there is a vast plethora of gurus to go around! Heaven help us, the number of divinely-wielded pens may also be more than a few.
And one may wonder, too, if other guru-affiliated judges would also, like Bhagwati, subscribe to the notion that their guru is in total charge of their legal judgements. What if their guru faced serious, well-made allegations?
In the case of Sathya Sai Baba, the allegations are extremely serious. They include implication in the cover up of several killings in his bedroom, worldwide allegations of wide-scale serial sexual abuse of boys and young men, scamming by his front office in regard to apartments, and other grave charges. In regard to the molestations, sworn testimony has been provided to major world media, UNESCO, police forces in the West (very privately, the latter will say in what great distrust many Indian police are held by international police who have the misfortune to have to deal with them). The interviewer says:
Inmates of the ashram, particularly young boys, have levied charges of sexual abuse against the godman.
Bhagwati (Agitated): These are all baseless allegations. Bhagwan is a divine person, divinity personified. All these allegations come from interested quarters.
Learned legal counsel of several major organizations of high repute have the extensive evidence, and not Bhagwati at all. Therefore, Bhagwati is bare of evidence, and therefore barefaced. He has not seen the sworn testimony that we have lodged with instrumentalities such as India Today, the BBC, Daily Telegraph (UK), Azul TV, Salon.com, police forces such as the FBI, and other instrumentalities such as UNESCO ….. See: BBC Exposed Sai Baba Top Aide’s And Indian Foreign Minister’s Ploy With UNESCO.
Indeed, the BBC Assistant Producer of ‘The Secret Swami’, David Saville, told me that, under its own private efforts, the BBC was able to uncover still more compelling testimony about sexual abuse than that represented by the lists provided by international former devotee coordinators like Glen Meloy, Hari Sampath, Robert Priddy and myself. See my Obituary:
How dare Bhagwati insult many decent families throughout the world! They have been shattered by the greatest betrayal of their lives, the actions of Sathya Sai Baba, to whom they were – many of the families for decades – hitherto utterly devoted! And in whose Sathya Sai Organization they did so much tireless, sacrificial service! These are the people whom Bhagwati’s close official colleague, Dr G. Venkatarman, too, has so badly and publicly defamed. See: Sathya Sai Baba’s Chief Broadcaster Dr G. Venkataraman: Select Critical Articles by Barry Pittard
By what right does Bhagwati opine in such matters? But of course, one may suppose, he claims Divine Right …..
Numerous mere mortals who do not agree with Bhagwati or his Divine-Penmanship-‘God’ have left the Sathya Sai Organization. They have been deemed, and in Orwellian fashion, to be non-persons now. Shunned, reviled, defamed. Some of these were, for decades outstanding leaders, a fact well-known by close longtime servitors on the Sathya Sai Central Trust and in the international Sathya Sai Organization, and more widely within the Sathya Sai fold.
For a minute part of the evidence for failure of accountability and transparency, and gross lack of duty of care, see: Sathya Sai Baba Chief, Dr Goldstein, Explodes. “I am the consummate professional” (See Film Clips) and: Bob Bozzani Big Donor To Guru Sai Baba Under Siege and: Sathya Sai Baba Organization’s Betrayal of Love and Compassion and: A Sathya Sai Saga. Barry Pittard Recollects. Part 4 and: Thorbjørn Meyer: Is Democracy Such A Good Idea?
Overnight, large numbers were now called (first by Sathya Sai Baba) “demons”, and “Judases”. Sai Baba said that they would not ever escape eternal hell. See: Sathya Sai Baba condemns his critics as “demons”
What has the divinely-guided Bhagati got to say about the undeniable fact that, very typically, these former devotees he defames are, and for long have been, respected members of their wider communities, professions, trades, places of learning, and so on.
But as to his guru:
Bhagwati: (he) is “divinity personified, he radiates joy …. What is the point of investigation?”
As the Times of India reports (see below), this is exactly what Bhagwati says, however difficult it may be for the rest of us to credit it.
Dear reader, how is that cup of Indian tea managing? Is it soothing enough?
Perhaps, many who have endured Bhagwati’s judgements over the years, and who regard the hand of Sathya Sai Baba as an alien one, and an injust one, may also like to pause for thought. And then to lodge formal complaint, and even sue Bhagwati.
India is, of course, a member of the Commonwealth of nations. And even one badly errant judge, a former Chief Justice at that, does not make life any better for his or her fellow judges who are in such a nexus.
But first, let me give my large number of readers the web address of: The Commonwealth Lawyers Association. You may like the pleasure of sending them your opinion, questioning whether they think India has progressed as far as she should, if she cannot provide better Justice role models.
In fact, Bhagwati makes several extraordinary claims. Thus, there is all the more reason for the world to know the sort of supposed seniormost Justice role model India got for herself in in the person of Bhagawati. Given that India is fast heading, along with China, towards superpower status, one might hope to see far better types among her legal superluminaries.
Will The Indian Government and Legal Profession Dare To Express Their Stance On Bhagwati?
International displeasure can be adverted to The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, and well beyond. And The CLA, for their part, may like to use the Bhagwati example as a cautionary tale for their members – perhaps especially for the young ones coming on, who are challenging the gerontocratic, elitist chambers of Indian and other justice systems that are in such sore need of reform. Cross-Commonwealth colleagial influence can, for example, in a number of ways, be brought to bear, without anyone meddling in the affairs of State. Even grave looks of displeasure and dismay, and refusal to felicitate, or accept invitations from ….. can carry a weight all of their own.
The Bhagwati cautionary tale benefits young and old. It warns of dangers that still face even 90 or so year old judges. My readers may like to ensure that Bhagwati’s comments, and informed criticisms of them, reach further afield than to the readers of the Times of India. Or even further than the readership of ‘Call For media and Government Investigation of Sathya Sai Baba’, if that is at all imaginable.
India’s P.N. Bhagwati Proclaims His Repute “as the foremost legal luminary across the Commonwealth”
Bhagati: I have cultivated a reputation as the foremost legal luminary across the Commonwealth.
He also tells the interviewer:
I have never uttered a lie in my entire life.
Bhagwati In Ignorance of the Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Quarters
One does not expect a key member of an extraordinarily wealthy, religiously and politically powerful Trust to be so blissfully unaware of hard realities. For forty years, he has play an important role around Sathya Sai Baba. How can he expect to be believed when he says that he does not know what he was doing at the time of four killings in his founder’s bedroom? That is to say – one who had, moreover, risen to the highest judicial role in the land. And who is a member of a professional class universally expected to have the best of memories. And yet, when he is asked whether, at this time, he was in Mumbai meeting with Sathya Sai Central Trust members there, Bhagwati says:
“I cannot remember. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I am not clear in my mind”.
Not clear in his mind? One cannot help but think that the families and friends of those so bloodily killed in Sathya Sai Baba’s bedroom might wish indeed that Bhagwati had a much better memory, and wish that he WAS clear in his mind …. In fact, as sober as a judge.
About the killings, then, let Indian (or other) journalists ask Bhagwati whether he remembers meeting with the Union Home Minister at the time of the murders, S.B.Chavan. Let him answer whether the discussion was about damage control, and hushing matters up. How would his memory stand up here?
The killings and the cover up were, of course, a singular and terrible circumstance in Puttaparthi history. It was more than enough for some devotees – shaken, they left the Sathya Sai Organization.
So how could Bhagwati forget? Many others do not forget it. They cannot, yet profoundly wish that they could. Why is he so forgetful?
Does Bhagwati remember where he was when he first heard news of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi? Or that of President John F. Kennedy? Or when news came of the events of 9/11? Presumably, he will remember where he was when news came through to him of Sathya Sai Baba’s death. Will he at all remember hearing the news, two days back, of the death Osama bin Laden? Most of the rest of us will never forget that.
Unless, of course, they were not sober as a good judge.
The Times of India interviewer says:
An attempt of was made on (Sai Baba’s) life a few years ago. Some ashram inmates were killed.
Bhagwati: I am not aware of this. I live in Delhi, so I have no knowledge.
The standard of Bhagwati’s extraordinariness does not lapse, as we see:
Interviewer: Several alleged offences committed by Sai Baba were never investigated.
Bhagwati: What is the point of investigation? (Agitated) Bhagwan is divinity personified, he radiates joy; millions worship him. He is a teacher of mankind”
Should one pour another cup of soothing Indian tea?
Bhagwati’s response is of a piece with that of his Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust colleague of many years, Indulal Shah. On 10 June 1993, The Hindu, reported:
“When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Sathya Sai World Trust, he said, ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.’”
A mostly emasculate Indian media corps, afraid of their proprietors, can cower in the face of such cynical, antidemocratic non-answers. How demeaning for India, though, that dereliction of democratic care has meant that foreign media has had to step in where India has vacated. One of India’s great and courageous editors – V.K. Narasimhan – (whom I knew and loved and for one of his books I did some editing) was noble, and not a coward of this ilk.
The evidence of Bhagwati’s and Shah’s internals might not be well digested by those who care for Law, when it is wise and just. Lord Coke, Lord Chancellor under James I, is credited with the saying: ‘Be ye ever so high, the law is above you’. Apparently, Lord Denning, the great British judge, was fond of quoting this aphorism.
Has Bhagwati’s memory grown so poor that he forgets the great legal maxims, such as: Hear the other side. Or: Hear the alternative party – Audi alteram partem. Or: audiatur et altera pars. Does he forget this principle? : “Justice knows neither father nor mother; justice looks to the truth alone” – Justitia non novit patrem nec matrem; solum verrtatem spectat justitia”.
Yet Bhagwati’s very words abnegate these great precepts, which are prime ones in justice systems throughout the world.
Does The Commonwealth Law Association Approve Of The Influential Bhagwati’s Unorthodox Notions?
According to its website notice for 17th Commonwealth Law Conference, the CWL states that the alumni of The Commonwealth Lawyers Association include “some of the finest legal minds in the world today”. Why a return of the CWL Conference to India, after all these forty years? Perhaps it is because some lawyers other than Bhagwati are making the great effort to embody the time-honored, enshrined principles of democratic justice.
One wonders what measure of respect members of The Commonwealth Lawyers Association might accord, given his attitudes made plain just a couple of days ago, a former Chief Justice of India, now to be installed as chairman of one of the wealthiest of Trusts. Might they not think that one of their colleagues now presides over a medieval fiefdom?
Ironically enough, the CLA law conference was held in Hyderabad, the capital of the late Sathya Sai Baba’s state of Andhra Pradesh, South India in February 2011. But what might Bhagwati know of the conference? After all, he may have been in Delhi. Or Mumbai. Or any other place where not even the most dramatic news is likely to echo to his ears.
Will The Indian Media Begin To Do Its Job As Fifth Estate Citizens’ Guardian?
Let us see whether the Indian media will be tame or challenge Bhagwati’s views, and the views of those who think similarly. But, sadly, news critical of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult has been denied to Indian for many decades, with rare exceptions like India Today and Caravan. Ironically non-resident Indians have been able to read or view investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult in foreign media.
In India, the Sathya Sai Organization’s great wealth and political and religious clout hold sway. In dealing with the Canadian media, I know how one of the CanWest newspapers, because of a multi-millionaire Sai devotee’s threat to withdraw his large advertizing, interposed on their journalist, and significantly diluted his article, which former Sathya Sai followers (who are in excellent standing in their communities, professions, trades and places of learning) had gone to sacrificial effort to document. I was reliably informed that the newspaper and the Sai devotees’ lawyers were ensconced for hours. We also know of the attempts of top Sathya Sai Baba aides in to stop media from investigating media such as: the BBC, CBC, SBS, India Today, the Times of London, The Adelaide Advertiser, The West Australian, and also UNESCO. Figures close to Sathya Sai Baba engaged in these attempts at censorship went very high on his VVIP list, e.g., Indian Air Chief Marshal N.C. Suri.
To say that he knows nothing of the killings is a dark stain on Bhagwati. To say that no investigations should take place, fortifies the Puttaparthi, local, state and central Indian government cover up. It is a scandal that is no secret to many Indian police, lawyers, journalists, politicians, government bureaucrats and others. It is one that shows India to the world, not as a ‘Shining India’ but as, all too glaringly, profoundly enmeshed in a corrupt, autocratic past from which she still cannot drag herself free.
The Times of India Bhagwati Interview With Ex-Chief Justice P.N. Bhagwati
‘Sai Baba, my god, dictated my every single judgment’
Posted by Barry Pittard on May 1, 2011
Posted by Barry Pittard on April 29, 2011
Still Further Reading
Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)